Better to ignore the proposal to build a tunnel between the Republic of Ireland and Wales

A government proposal to establish a 50 mile tunnel between the Republic of Ireland and Wales has been called an idea best ignored.

The project, if it comes to fruition, would see the tunnel connecting Holyhead in Wales and the capital of Ireland, Dublin.

The Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, proposed it as an alternative to the bridge or tunnel proposed by Boris Johnson between Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Routes have been suggested between Larne and Portpatrick or Torr Head and Mull of Kintyre. Experts have estimated the cost of such a project to be at least £ 15 billion.

Professor Deidre Heenan of the University of Ulster, who had previously called such a program a ‘la-la-land’ plan and urged the Prime Minister to dump the proposal, said Mr Shapps’ proposal no was not much better.

“These are just more cynical diversionary tactics on the part of the Prime Minister who does not want to recognize or deal with the consequences of his harsh Brexit for NI,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

“Johnson is in the form for big, promising infrastructure projects that never come to fruition. Better ignore.”

It has been reported that a feasibility study of the proposal could be launched in the coming weeks and a price for the Holyhead-Dublin route could cost £ 15bn.

However, the project would be roughly twice as long in distance as the proposed Northern Ireland-Scotland bridge.

Architect Alan Dunlop, who has followed the proposed bridge project closely, said he was not convinced the £ 15 billion would be enough for a Dublin-Wales link.

“Given that this is about twice the distance and the link between Scotland and Northern Ireland has been estimated at £ 15bn, I’m not sure that would be enough,” he said. -he explains.

Mr Johnson had previously suggested building a roundabout under the Isle of Man, connecting Northern Ireland, Scotland and England, linking Stanraer, Belfast, Liverpool and Heysham in Lancashire.

Mr Dunlop was more dismissive of the viability of such a large project, but stressed that a link between Wales and Dublin is feasible.

“There is certainly sufficient expertise to ensure that this can happen,” said the architect.

But he stressed that the issue at the heart of the problem is economic viability.

“My preference would be for the project in Northern Ireland and Scotland,” he said.

Whitehall officials have reportedly admitted that while people may think this is “a joke,” the project is being treated as a credible proposal.

It is understood that a formal proposal for review has been submitted by the High Speed ​​Rail Group, which represents the railway companies, and Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, which is studying ways to improve rail links. transport to different parts of the UK.

Currently, direct connections between Wales and Northern Ireland do not exist, although flights between Belfast City Airport and Cardiff Airport are expected to start from the end of June.

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